She was his best friend.
Those were the words David J. Parry used to describe Karen A. Tufo-Grant, who was arrested Dec. 23 by city police and accused of stealing more than $50,000 from Mr. Parry over five years.
The two Watertown residents who Mr. Parry said had been close friends for more than 50 years worked together as well, both at the former Bennys Steakhouse, which was owned by Ms. Tufo-Grants father, Bernard J. Benny Tufo Sr., at its Arsenal Street location for more than 50 years until his death in 1997 and managed by Ms. Tufo-Grant until it closed; and at Karen and Jaspers Bar and Bistro, owned by Ms. Tufo-Grant and her husband, in the Watertown Shopping Plaza, Washington Street, until it closed in 2013.
Between the two restaurants, Mr. Parry, of 347 VanDuzee St., estimates he worked about six years for Ms. Tufo-Grant and her family. Even when he wasnt working at Karen and Jaspers, he was a common sight at the restaurant.
Some days he would stop in to pick up his paycheck; other times it would be only for a beer and a basket of french fries and the company. But, he said, he would be there nearly every day.
So when Ms. Tufo-Grant, 54, told Mr. Parry that he needed to repair his car or pay a hospital bill, he didnt bat an eye at the withdrawals from his account. Mr. Parry, 71, who is developmentally disabled, had entrusted all his finances to Ms. Tufo-Grant, who held power of attorney on his bank account.
At first, he went along with her to the bank. Soon enough, Mr. Parry said, he didnt need to accompany her to the bank anymore; he said she began making the withdrawals without him.
Friends of Mr. Parry said he knew what mail was his and what mail was Karens. When mail arrived from the bank, or a check came from Social Security, he would hand it off to her without even opening it.
But one day in August, Mr. Parry opened the mail. In it was a bank statement showing his account to be nearly empty. He said about $28,000 had been taken from the account in 2013 alone.
While Ms. Tufo-Grant allegedly spent the money on utilities and personal bills, Mr. Parry said he was told he no longer had the money to buy a new car, or new clothing.
He took this as a surprise, as he said he would save all but $5 of his weekly paycheck and deposit the rest into his account.
It was my life savings, Mr. Parry said.
Still, he was patient. According to court documents, the thefts went on from October 2008 until September 2013, but Mr. Parry said he gave Ms. Tufo-Grant whom he often referred to as Mom two months to pay back the money or hed go to the police.
Mr. Parry, who first met Ms. Tufo-Grants family when he was 17 or 18 and had even spent holidays at their home, was devastated.
Now, he hasnt spoken to anyone from the family in months.
It broke my heart, Mr. Parry said. I feel like she took advantage of our friendship.
Ms. Tufo-Grant, 22000 Holcomb St., was charged with second-degree grand larceny, arraigned in City Court and released on bail.